SAWS to propose 10.5 percent rate hike over next two years

Your water bill could go up more than 10 percent over the next two years if a new proposal by San Antonio Water System (SAWS) is approved.

SAN ANTONIO - Your water bill could go up more than 10 percent over the next two years if a new proposal by San Antonio Water System (SAWS) is approved.

On Wednesday, SAWS CEO Robert Puente will brief city council members on what the company wants in its proposed rate adjustment.

The additional funds would pay to update aging pipes, water meters, and fund a new water project.

SAWS says that it needs a 5.8 percent rate increase in 2018 and a 4.7 percent increase in 2019. That's a 10.5 percent hike over the next two years.

"In 2018, we're doing the basics. We're working on our sewer infrastructure, our water infrastructure," said Anne Hayden, a SAWS spokeswoman.

Hayden says that the company needs to replace miles and miles of pipe as required by the EPA. SAWS is currently under an EPA Consent Decree on their sewer infrastructure.

"We also really have to pay attention to our water infrastructure because it's so critical that the water we're pumping, the water we're treating, gets to our customers," Hayden noted.

SAWS will also start a pilot program to test automated meters to find the best way to collect information.

"Electric meters, you have a power source because it's there in the wall of the home or the business," Hayden explained. "Water meters are out near the curb, so what we're testing is what works best. Is it battery-powered? How does it work?"

The rate hikes will also be used to pay for the Vista Ridge project. The 142-mile pipeline will transport water from Burleson County to San Antonio.

The Vista Ridge Pipeline will be the 16th water project supplying our water from nine different sources.

"If they go to SAWS.org/rates, they can look at what we're proposing, what it's going to go towards, and then they can see an online calculator where they can input their water use to see what their bill would look like next year," Hayden explained.

There won't be a vote on the proposed rate hike just yet. SAWS will have online meetings October 24 and November 1 where the public can weigh in.

Then in late November, the board will vote before handing the rate hikes to San Antonio city council for final approval.

Hayden says that SAWS is expanding their affordability program, reaching more people who own homes and who may be in financial difficulty. To learn more about that program, visit SAWS.org/afford.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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